The ABC of UGC

Statistics, facts, strategies & everything else you need to know about User-Generated Content

A is for Ask. This one is first because it’s the most important: when sharing user generated content, you must always ask for permission first. This is a big issue of legality. Whether it’s a DM or by e-mail, make sure you acknowledge their hard work and secure their consent.

B is for Big Purchases. Items which are not only hefty in price but symbols of accomplishment — like cars, cellphones or electronics, insurance, travel and hotels or credit cards — are decisions which face a particular scrutiny. Depending on the item, anywhere between 29–59% of millennials will not complete the purchase without seeing some form of UGC. This could be a review, a tweet, a picture or any other form of content.

C is for Content. Every 30 days there are 25 billion new pieces of content uploaded to the internet. Content is any piece of information + communication and strong (or “sticky”) content is what makes people trust your brand or return to your website. The information you pack in and the way you communicate it alters your content’s capacity to reach and influence your consumers. A content strategy is any long-term plan for your online presence while a good content strategy juggles company goals while still considering the audiences’ interests and maintaining interactions.

D is for Decisions. One of the most critical influences that UGC can have on a customer is the possibility of helping them make a decision. CrowdTap found that UGC is 20% more influential concerning purchase decisions than any other kind of media. Additionally, there is around a 4% higher chance of conversion which is doubled if they interact with it.

E is for Engagement. UGC strategies typically see a 28% increase in brand-engagement which can of course can have positive effect on your social media presence, reach, growth and conversion.

F is for Facebook. Although it is regularly cited as the number one social network for businesses, Facebook is increasingly trampled by advertisements — which is perhaps why UGC is a proven way to stand out on the Facebook feed. But a heads up: 25% of Generation Z left Facebook in 2014 and they tend of favor incognito platforms, like Snapchat.

G is for Giveaways, also called Gamification. Giveaways are not only a great way to engage followers and extend your reach but they can be used as a tool to collect UGC. You can ask people to like, share or comment for a prize or create a contest-specific hashtag in which users share a photo and winners are selected. You can also just ask followers by e-mail to submit photos or video and reward them with a gift. Make sure that both the game and the gift are relevant to your audience. (see P + V for related information)

H is for Hashtags. One of the best ways to locate sources of UGC is by monitoring relevant hashtags or encouraging clients and customers to post images or video using specific ones. You can comb through the hashtag later in order to find good sources of content, also called harvesting.

I is for Instagram, which is probably the most important platform for UGC; both for collecting content and sharing. Learning how to regram is vital because it alerts viewers that the image is authentically from another user. It should also be pointed out that many believe UGC will replace Influencer based marketing because it’s less expensive and similarly effective.

J is for Journalism. Since 2005, UGC has been a recognizable social tool first notably adopted by citizen journalists documenting the London Bombings. In 2006, Time Magazine named “You” person of the year as a nod to the meteoric rise of user-generated content in mainstream media. The strongest influencers to date are online forums like 4Chan, Reddit, and Tumblr or networks like Wikipedia, YouTube and Facebook.

K is for King. A common phrase repeated in the online discussion about content marketing is “user generated content is king”, which is an adaptation of the phrase: the consumer is king or the customer is always right. The results of these two philosophies are identical: when a company makes the customer’s feelings a priority and a focus, they get loyalty and respect in return.

L is for Lazy. A common misunderstanding surrounding UGC strategies is that using it is easy and saves you time and energy. Not true. Harvesting and curating UGC can be just as much effort, if not more. Does this image still fit with your branded message? Is it suitable to share with your audience?

M is for Marketing. While UGC clearly has a strong influence on your audience, it isn’t a complete marketing strategy. Professionally produced and intelligently crafted brand messages still play a significant role in any marketing campaign. ComScore found that the most emotionally evocative, communicative, relatable and understandable messages were a combination of professionally produced and user-generated content.

N is for Niche. Data-driven insights are smarter than ever and can help you hone in on your niche audience. Sharing user generated photos or videos reinforces the idea that your product or brand is a social influencer within your target groups and researching this niche group’s content is a way to learn other behaviors as well, like slang, mood, or social opinions.

O is for Opinions. 71% of millennials share their opinions online because they feel their contribution is valuable or helpful to other customers. 64% of Millennials think that more companies should integrate more channels for them to share their opinions. But take note: a whopping 87% said they did not think the company should edit the feedback in anyway, not even a tiny grammar mistake. (See Y for related information)

P is for Promotion Guidelines. So, you finally decided on a contest and a platform? Why don’t you double check what you are doing is allowed. The laws that impact your region may influence your permissions and how you structure your promotion. Click for promotion guidelines on Instagram. Twitter. and Facebook.

User Generated Content is a brand strategy that harnesses the power of your client or customer’s pictures, opinions and perspective.

Q is for Quality. Well I know I said that UGC is King (see K) but not all users have the same level of influence nor aesthetic abilities. In other words, Quality still beats Quantity, so you must be selective when it comes to curating your content. Avoid the instinct to hoard or over-share.

R is for Research. Don’t you dare skimp on the research. Know your audience, know the right keywords and hashtags, know what kinds of photos they share, know when they are online, know their slang, know their priorities and values, know their culture.

S is for SEO. Because UGC is regularly uploaded to personal platforms, this means it creates more backlinks which can increase your sites visibility and promote organic traffic.

T is for Trust. The majority of people trust UGC more than branded information, and it’s not hard to understand why — there is a feeling that a peer or a stranger is unbiased whereas a brand obviously has an agenda. When compared with professionally produced content, UGC is perceived as more relatable, communicative, and emotionally intense.

U is for User-generated, or as it’s sometimes called consumer-generated, user-driven innovation, or user-submitted, community-created, or in some cases “native” content (though this term has a different definition). They all revolve around the same principle: your audience, target demographic, followers, clients and/or online community can be contributors to your media, content and online presence. Including them is not only a bold, even altruistic way to approach branding but has proven results and stronger engagements.

V is for Voting. Voting is a natural self-promotion tool for any UGC-based contest or game because it integrates the opinions of people who have may not have contributed but still want to be involved. Those who did submit may ask their friends and family to vote for their picture or video — suddenly the possibilities of this promotion are even more dynamic & further reaching. Not to mention: it’s well within the spirit of user-generated content because you are centering the opinions of your customers once again.

W is for Why? UGC mirrors what users regularly see and it takes its shape based on these forms and references. It is more engaging because it is a memorable, relatable and enjoyable experience for the user. At the end of the day, UGC is about having fun and celebrating your consumers (and giving them a chance to celebrate you too!).

X is for Examples. The best user generated content examples were able to launch a bold promotion that had enthusiastic feedback and produced compelling results. They found a way to naturally integrate images or video of customers, people celebrating the brand, or simply participating.

Y is for Generation Y, also known as Generation Youtube or Millennials — the group that by 2017 will have the most buying power. On average, they spend 18 hours online per day, 5 of those hours consuming social media created by their peers. It’s no surprise that over 84% of them say that they rely on UGC to make decisions. In fact, unlike Baby Boomers, Millennials are more convinced by UGC than a recommendation from a close friend or family member. Generation Z seems to have similar values and habits.

Z is for zipstrr, and other B2B companies that assist you in using UGC. zipstrr is a free app that allows you to interact with your followers and customers, harvest user-generated videos and compile them into a video for your campaign. Check out what our clients and users have already produced. Other awesome companies or platforms, like Lobster Media, acquire UGC content and connect companies with this media at a low cost.


written by Olivia — the social media strategist for zipstrr.

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